Bulletin 206 - December 2/December 15, 2002
December 2/December 15, 2002
Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
The same abba said, 'A man who is angry, even if he were to raise the dead, is not acceptable to God.'
The Good Samaritan
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So he answered and said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you. So which of these three do you think was the neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Eternal life is the goal of the Orthodox Christian. This goal is embraced at Baptism and remains in place throughout life. We are united with Jesus Christ at Baptism. We are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Chrismation.
At Holy Confession and Communion, we return to Jesus Christ and are reunited with Christ. Jesus Christ enters our hearts, our members, our veins when we partake of His Precious Body and Blood.
We live in Christ not in isolation but with other members of the Church community. We live in Christ in a world created by God. Each person in the world is created in the image and likeness of God.
Christian teachings challenge us to look beyond the barriers arisen among humans. Christian teachings challenge us to be civil and loving with each other, to be kind and forgiving.
The present Gospel message given to the Orthodox Christian community each year is a strong reminder to be of help to people we meet in life. By helping others we build up the community. We actualize the Christianity we profess at Baptism.
St. James said many centuries ago: "that a man is justified by works and not by faith only." Abraham was called the friend of God because he followed through with his faith to the point he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. (James 2:21-24)
We never know when an act of kindness will bear great fruit. Acts of kindness are cumulative. The help to build up the community. They are examples for others. They reveal the love of Christ.
Christians are distinguished by the love of Christ evident in their lives. If Christ is in our hearts, Christ will be manifest in our works. Our Lord said many
Effort is necessary on the part of Christians. Even in stillness, in the contemplation of Christ, exercising control of the body and mind and heart are necessary.
Growth in Jesus Christ requires a conscious effort. Growth in Jesus Christ requires the exercise of conscious choice "for Christ" and "against" all that leads one away from Christ.
Attractions and distractions will enter into the view and path of the Christian. Being faithful to the end, being faithful throughout life, is a daily challenge, a "moment by moment" challenge.
Being faithful to Jesus Christ is not simply a moment of emotionalism. Being faithful to Jesus Christ is a lifelong process of working at being faithful to Christ, of fighting with the temptations, the distractions, and the perils that enter into life. Being faithful to Christ is taking time to pray as often as possible, wherever we are, that we may be united with Christ.
Being faithful to Christ involves adhering to His teachings. Being faithful to Christ means learning about Christ, coming to know Christ through prayer, through fasting, through reading the Holy Scriptures, through partaking of His Precious Body and Blood.
Faithfulness to Christ involves seeing Christ at work in our daily lives. Faithfulness to Christ involves seeing the presence of Christ in others, in the sick, the suffering, the imprisoned, the hungry and the needy. (Mt.25:45)
The Gospel account of the Good Samaritan reveals the far-reaching dimensions of Christianity. The Gospel account of the Good Samaritan takes the teachings of Christ in the Church and extends it to the communities in which we live.
The Gospel account of the Good Samaritan puts Christianity into action with the strangers we meet in life. When we adhere to the teachings of Christ, we find the common bond we have with others in the world, we find the unity we have with each other, and that unity is Christ.
Let us find ways to share the love of Christ in our daily lives with each person we meet.